As countries restructure their electricity sector to include more renewable resources, there will be a higher demand for management software, throwing up opportunities for software and services companies worldwide, according to a Greenpeace spokesman.
Managing a single point supply like a coal plant involves fewer challenges than managing a distributed energy supply system consisting of conventional power stations and renewable energy systems spread across a number of locations, said Sven Teske, Director of Greenpeace's Renewable Energy Campaign, on Friday.
Last October Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council set a blueprint for reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050 in a document entitled "Energy Revolution". Renewable energy from sources including wind and the sun is a key component of this strategy.
The Greenpeace model distributes the equivalent of a single 2-gigawatt coal power plant among a number of power plants using solar, wind and bio-mass energy in different locations around in a city, Teske said.
This model requires far more management and better forecast of demand and supply, including taking into account the impact of weather conditions on demand and supply of energy, Teske said.
A cloud moving over a city, for example, can lead to reduced production of solar energy at some locations on the grid, and increased production at other locations, which requires software to manage, he added.
The restructuring of the global electricity sector will require an investment of US$14.7 trillion up to 2030, according to Greenpeace. Teske did not however give a figure on how much of this investment would be on software.
Besides providing the software for the new power grids, IT companies can also help the environment by designing more energy-efficient equipment, according to Greenpeace. In industrialized countries, the only reason why there is still increasing demand for electricity is because of the demand from running IT infrastructure like servers, Teske said.
The next big area of competition for equipment makers will have to be in the area of the energy efficiency of their equipment, and this is already happening, he added.
Greenpeace challenged earlier this month the leaders of top electronics and IT companies to back up their claims of green credentials by actively campaigning for strong action at the Copenhagen meeting on the environment in December. The meeting aims to reach an agreement on reducing climate change that will replace the current Kyoto Protocol.
"IT companies get heard in government, and we would like to have them as allies," Teske said.